Global Policy Forum

Libyan Court Wants Americans

Associated Press

As the date approaches for Libya to turn over two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case, a Libyan court on Monday told state prosecutors to speed up efforts to arrest nine Americans. Egypt's Middle East News Agency said the court wants to try the Americans for the 1986 bombing of the Libyan capital Tripoli and the port of Benghazi.

The attacks were ordered by former President Ronald Reagan to retaliate for the bombing of a German disco in which two U.S. servicemen died. Libyan prosecutors last December ordered the arrests of nine U.S. officials, including the late CIA director William Casey, former National Security adviser John Poindexter and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North. Reagan was not named in the suit.

The court hearing came just three days after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told visiting South African President Nelson Mandela that he would turn over by April 6 two Libyans charged in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. The bombing killed 270 people. Gadhafi had long said the suspects could not get a fair trial in either the United States or Britain. Under a compromise, the trial will be held before Scottish judges in the Netherlands.

Libya says the 1986 bombings of Tripoli and Benghazi took the lives of 31 people, including Gadhafi's adopted daughter. It says 226 were wounded. After ordering prosecutors to speed up efforts to arrest the suspects, the judge scheduled the next hearing for Sept. 22.

Libya says the Americans are charged with premeditated murder, intent to commit murder and "inspiring fear in the hearts of innocent civilians," the Egyptian news agency said. Libya will seek help from the U.N. Security Council if the men are not turned over for trial, it said. A trial in a third country could be possible, it added.


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